A short update I sent yesterday sparked a small conversation on Twitter and inspired a blog post by Heather Rast, Market Where Your Audiences Are.
I tweeted this after receiving this text message from Jon Johnson, pastor of my church:
Please don’t forget this Sunday is Food Pantry Sunday. Food is running low and we need to restock. Please bring non-perishable foods this Sunday! You all are the best.
The intended recipient list for this text message was probably those of us in leadership known to prefer text messaging or Facebook updates to email. Note that two bits of information are carried in this short message: 1) a reminder of a church outreach that needs attention; and 2) five little words of encouragement: “You all are the best.”
If you don’t have a relationship with our pastor, those words might sound corny or even supercilious. But spend a short amount of time with the good reverend, and you’ll know just how genuine and heartfelt those words are — and therefore, how encouraging.
The Twitter responses and Heather’s blog post made me think of how churches, and other communities of faith, are using new media. Some, like LifeChurch, have thriving online communities and a full library of multimedia resources available for free. Others ignore social media altogether–and risk becoming irrelevant to younger members.
Most are probably like my church, somewhere in the middle. We have a Web presence–not what we’d like it to be yet, but it’s receiving great traffic–and we’re on Facebook. And now we have a pastor who sends text messages. Hurray!
Naturally, I’ve been lobbying for a greater social media presence for several years. We’re a small church and all our efforts are volunteer. But I’ve taught several people how to use WordPress, and I started the Facebook group three years ago–before fan pages existed. Now volunteers are maintaining the Web site and Facebook. Pastor Jon is great at engaging people in online discussions, and he recently learned how to Skype.
What is your church or community of faith doing with new media? Have you encouraged them to start using new communication tools? Better yet, have you volunteered to share your knowledge?